The BBC’s Empire Timeline provide a great way to visualise not only the major events of the history of the British Empire in chronological order but it also basically maps the movement and geography in simple terms alongside the timeline.


  • The Jeremy Paxman Empire series on the BBC has updated many views and taken a different approach to the Sceptered Isle Radio 4 Series (that this Timeline was created way back in 2005.)
  • The two together are a great way of getting the timeline context, social, cultural and geographic context in which to consider your history project.
  • The Paxman Empire series and book ( published before the TV programme was broadcast) present a helpful  and self-critical view of the origins of Empire. Facing up to the less than glorious elements whilst viewing in the round why and how the Empire and the systems
  • that established it, maintained it and eventually handed back power to the rightful indigenous populations worked.
  • The series and book have left me feeling and hopefully beginning to better understand the connections between the origins of Empire and multi-cultural Britain as it is today.  Indeed having watched the last episode it has made me even more aware how essential knowledge of the British Empire is to understanding the history of all our families, and perhaps offer a different base from which to forge our future.
  • The new series point’s out how  ‘being English and British’ is directly connected to the good, the bad and the ugly of what really happened from it’s foundations, to the rise and fall of the British Empire.
  • Like it or not, and there was much not to be so proud of, both resources helped to provide much needed context to how Business and Trade fueled the great adventuring explorers and how the ramifications of that Empire are very much still with us, in the here and now and that acting as if ‘it’s nothing to do with us’ is not only incorrect historically but blinds us and obscures our perspective on the present and ability to capitalise on opportunities for the future.

If you would like to explore further resources and articles about the British Empire then take a look on this site and also on our FREE Resource Intriguing History. Across both sites our Historical themes of Business trade and Industry, Empire and Colonialism will enable you to find additional resources ideas and tools and how to guides.

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